A local health authority is one of two across the country that has instigated a plan in line with the government's 2025 deadline for carbon neutrality.
As part of the Government's initiative to combat climate change, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board was required to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.
DHB sustainability manager Viktoria Blake told the Bay of Plenty Times that was somewhat impossible due to the hospital's role in keeping people alive.
"We obviously cannot get to zero carbon with our activities so it means that we have to purchase carbon credits to offset that.
"We will be quite reasonably reliant on carbon offsetting in order to make that target, however, we're still aiming by 2050 to reduce that offset as much as practicable by removing our natural gas infrastructure or using other infrastructure that's more carbon friendly."
Her comments come following the launch of the Sustainability Action Plan last Wednesday.
Blake told those in attendance that while saving lives the Bay of Plenty District Health Board was also having a "detrimental impact" on people through carbon emissions.
"We are here to protect the health of our people however we are also part of the cause of climate change which will have detrimental impacts on our community.
"We must lead in this space."
More than 8000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were recorded last financial year which could fill Pohutukawa House, a building on the Tauranga Hospital site, from the basement to roof 510 times, Blake said.
Energy use was the biggest contributor to the overall footprint at 48 per cent with the second being natural gases at 35 per cent.
The DHB sustainability goals for this financial year were to reduce paper use and printing activity by 25 per cent, achieve a 10 per cent reduction in waste to landfill and a 2 per cent reduction in energy consumption from the year before.
Charmaine Flynn-Hooker, a cardiac catheter lab nurse said her department saw a seven per cent reduction in landfill waste and a 40 per cent reduction in cost while trialling a waste streaming system.
She believed there would be a further reduction overall if there was a way to recycle soft plastics locally, however, the practice changed from all waste going into the contaminated yellow waste bag, to simply that which was covered in blood which led to the cost reduction.
"We very rarely put a yellow bag at the end of the day so we went from having two huge yellow bins to one bag that hardly gets used."
The health board's sustainability progress was independently assessed as part of its Toitū carbon reduce certification.
Sales and marketing general manager Josephine Rudkin-Binks said she was already seeing great results come through despite being early in their journey.
She said the DHB had a robust plan framework in place and although early in its sustainability journey, she had seen reductions in areas such as water use, paper use and travel.
Rudkin-Binks said there was not a huge difference from a hospital's emissions to a large organisation, as many emissions were similar such as energy, waste and freight, however, there were key differences for hospitals.
"They provide meals and are users of anaesthetic gases but these are all part of the reduction plan that Bay of Plenty DHB has in place."
Rudkin-Binks said that the health board was looking into growing some of its own food through hospital community gardens to not only reduce its carbon emissions but also educate on the importance of healthy sustainable food.
Medsalv founder and chief executive Oliver Hunt worked to combat the high level of waste produced in New Zealand's healthcare system by reprocessing used single-use medical devices.
While the Bay of Plenty DHB used the Medsalv service, Hunt said the importing of medical devices, which the New Zealand health system was reliant on, was a concern for sustainability.
"For many products it is cheaper, per product, to make things in a low wage economy, and then import them. But if you do produce those products onshore there are wider benefits that impact our communities.
"There are huge benefits for that, which are not necessarily financial or as tangible. When you have people working in high-value jobs, rather than relatively low value, that builds the economy and that's good for everyone."